Artist: Cee Cee James
Album: Stripped Down and Surrendered
Release Date: 10/21/2016
Dubbed as the “Vocal Volcano,” Cee Cee James is certainly a force to be reckoned with. She’s a songwriter, an activist, and a woman of deep faith too. She and her husband/cowriter – Rob “Slideboy” Andrews are on a musical mission to deliver the honest emotions of love, recovery and life’s many challenges while paying tribute and respect to The Almighty. Their projects now carry the banner of Cee Cee James & The Mission of S.O.U.L. (Surrendering, Opening, Unlocking Love). As the title of this, her fourth CD, implies it is a raw, honest approach.
Recalling one of her earlier efforts, she struck me as a soulful, raspy blues artist reminiscent of Janis Joplin and Carolyn Wonderland. Upon listening to this one, she came across more as a fervent gospel singer although the aforementioned vocal comparisons still hold. “Stripped Down” also applies to the sound itself, often just a trio with keyboards and second guitar on select tracks.
These songs are apparently about the second half of Cee Cee’s life, removing her inhibitions and finding trust in both people and a higher faith. The song titles speak directly to her themes. She begins with the title track, reflecting on a sinful life that has turned toward optimism and love. Similarly, “The Edge Is Where I Stopped,” takes her to the brink, causing her to look inwardly. Insights of her rough childhood and early periods of adult life come through in “Thank You for Never Loving Me,” “Love Done Left Home” and “Cold Hard Gun.”
Some of this material, as rendered by James’ sincere, but far from smooth voice, takes some getting used to. But, revealing her dark side is a means of relaying her main message: love makes us stronger, but most of us have to undergo struggles to really appreciate it. You hear this loud and clear in “Glory Bound” and “So Grateful.” There’s no denying her compassion. She is completely unpretentious.